Up front, the Accent looks like exactly what it is; the younger, smaller sibling of the Elantra with the same kind of bug-eyed smile.
The Accent's biggest design accolade goes to the sedan, which manages to be a well-proportioned sub-compact. This isn't easy to pull off; the Ford Fiesta sedan looks like a miniature hat you'd make your Shih Tzu wear.
On the road, the Accent drives and handles with straightforward purpose. The automatic transmission is clearly geared toward efficiency, and will upshift with according zest. Meanwhile, the manual transmission's shifter has a very light feel to it and would be an asset for those learning to shift or anyone rowing their gears through the sea of Los Angeles traffic.
Maximum horsepower comes at a high 6,300 rpm, so expect the engine to get noisy when you need to really push the car.
A Honda Fit will be more fun to drive in terms of initial pep and enthusiasm for corners, but Hyundai says it tuned the Accent for a wider range of drivers, and the car is certainly a competent, comfortable performer all around.
In fact, all around is an appropriate term for the 2012 Accent as a whole; it's all-around good. It's what the people need, in the form that they need it in.
If only what the people want were so easy.